Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oregon Ballot Measure Hoedown

Not all that glitters is gold. Sometimes, what glitters is merely glitter.

OBM 54 / HJR 4 - YEA

  • Fixes some discrepancies in School Board voting eligibility, bringing the age requirement from 21 to 18. Trivial.

OBM 55 / HJR 31 - YEA

  • Makes various small changes to how redistricting works. Trivial and filled with random junk.
OBM 56 / HJR 15 - YEA

  • Removes a requirement that was put in place in 1996 by ballot measure 47. The requirement was a mandate that if less than 51% voted (for or against) a measure, and that measure increased property taxes, it was automatically struck down. This is clearly warranted because there's nothing special about tax increases relative to any other ballot measure change. It follows that a uniform procedure be used.
OBM 57 / SB 1087 - YEA

  • Creates minimum sentences for certain drug and property crimes. This is unwarranted. Drug use and property crime can't be effectively addressed in this way. Virtually all methodologically sound scholarly work suggests the ineffectiveness of minimum sentencing. Judges also lose discretion to reduce sentences for mitigating circumstances. On the other hand, the prison industry will be booming. I talked to some coworkers about this one and I guess both it and 61 are slated to pass this year. The one with the most votes will become law. I'm left with the grim task of saying "vote for this" just so that 61 doesn't go into effect.
  • Increases funding for drug treatment programs. Despite the gloriousness that is drug treatment programs, such glitter isn't enough to make the measure worth voting for as a whole. Darn, if we only had line-item balloting.
OBM 58 / IRR 19 - YEA

  • Establishes limitations to ESL instruction for kids who do not speak english. This is a complex matter. Much research suggests that kids will learn more quickly in an immersion environment. The problem is that while they learn English, they don't learn the subject matters that are taught to them in English. This measure would also bring Oregon out of Federal Standards, costing the state some federal education funding. I'm personally inclined to support the measure because I actually believe that ESL is more or less a failure and a bloated waste. The groups that oppose the measure are connected to the teacher unions and motivated to protect a few ESL teachers that would lose their jobs or programs. I have a hard time believing that the problems that immigrants face in coming to America, and in rasing children in a foreign culture like ours, can be addressed by educational methods. It is also probably true that underperformance by these kids shouldn't be viewed as alarming or something that needs to be fixed considering their background and lack of guidance or support.
OBM 59 - NAY

  • Removes federal deduction cap from state income tax liability. Currently, federal tax liability is subtracted from income for state tax assessment purposes, but the cap is $5,500. Therefore this measure allows "complete" deduction of federal tax paid. My opposition to this measure is mostly because I believe in balanced budgets and this would drive the budget further out of balance. To be honest, there is no philosophic reason why there should be any deduction at all. I'd rather there wasn't. Removing the cap would only benefit people who make more than $89,000 a year, and that means shifting the tax burden to the poor. That's antithetical to the way I play.
OBM 60 - NAY

  • Makes teacher pay based on "classroom performance", not seniority. Classroom performance is going to mean giving kids with angry parents that A+ that they obviously deserved. Naturally since it is possible for all teachers to do badly, no raises would be given. Seniority isn't as bad as people think, and at least it mandates certain levels of pay.
  • Least qualified teachers will be laid off first. This will mandate excessive, irrelevant education.
  • Shall be known as the Kids First Act. Hurray!
  • Limits future contracts (teacher hires) but preserves existing ones. Essentially this means that any benefits of this will be long delayed.
OBM 61 - NAY

  • Mandates minimum sentences for a long list of nonviolent crimes. This is just a much worse version of 57. The problem is that there are limited prison beds. All that is going to happen is musical chairs. I'd rather slap nonviolent criminals on the wrist and throw the book at the violent ones to ensure that we have and keep a safe society.
OBM 62 - NAY

  • Sends 15% of lottery profits to a public safety fund. This is a redirection of funds from other uses, such as education. It isn't a good fix for public safety because none of the money goes to hiring more judges and increasing court services, which are the bottleneck in the whole system currently.
OBM 63 - YEA

  • Allows limited improvements to existing structures without a building permit. The truth here is in the small print. Since this will cost the government revenue, it means that building permits are being used as a source of revenue. That's crazy and unfair. Allowing limited improvements without a permit is just one step toward making a betting housing policy in the USA.
OBM 64 / IRR 25 - NAY

  • Stops unions and other "public" organizations from participating in politics. This is just an orwellian screw-job. Unions are inherently political organizations and they exist because businesses tend to screw their workers over. We can better all workers by supporting unions and working toward workers' rights, or we can worsen ourselves and all workers through jealous bickering over the scraps of justice others have earned.
OBM 65 - Nay

  • Creates an open, "jungle" primary where the top two candidates advance. Please see the next post, it deals specifically with this issue. I've actually changed my mind on this one.

There you have it: my feelings. Enjoy.

1 comment:

tim said...

I likes your blog. I likes it a lot.

Thanks for sharing it with me, I will be sure to consult it frequently in my vainglorious quest to stay abreast of political situations back home.

Also, I would like to thank you for including the effects of social sciences in your alternative economic model. It's nice to be thought of as important.